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Albertsons Companies names longtime retail executive as CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

Albertsons Companies has tapped a veteran retailer with four CEO stints under his belt as its next chief executive.

The supermarket retailer said it has promoted Jim Donald, currently the company’s president and COO, to president and CEO of Albertsons Companies, effective immediately. He succeeds Robert Miller, who will continue as chairman,

Donald’s 47-year retail career began as a trainee in Florida with Publix Supermarkets. He joined Albertsons in 1976, which culminated in his being appointed VP of operations in Arizona. In 1991, he was recruited by Sam Walton to join Walmart to lead the development of their grocery business and superstore concept.

From Walmart, Donald went to Safeway, and then to Pathmark Stores, where he served as CEO from 1996 through 2002. He then went to Starbucks Corp., where he spent six years, including serving as president and CEO from 2005 to 2008.

Post Starbucks, Donald served as CEO of two other companies, Haggen and Extended Stay America, where he led its successful $565 million IPO. In March, Donald joined Albertsons as president and COO.

“Jim is an exceptional retailer,” Miller said. “In the seven months since he joined Albertsons Companies, he’s flown tens of thousands of miles and met personally with thousands of employees in hundreds of our stores, distribution centers, manufacturing plants, and offices around the country,” Miller said. “His expertise in listening to front line employees and customers, facilitating employee engagement and generating sales is unmatched, and there is no better leader for Albertsons Companies at this state in our evolution.”

Albertsons Cos. operates stores across 35 states and the District of Columbia under 20 well-known banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, as well as meal kit company Plated based in New York City.

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Party City veteran joins candy specialty retailer in dual role

BY Marianne Wilson

It’Sugar has a new finance head and operations officer.

The candy retailer named Mark Davis as CFO and COO, with responsibility for building and leading the systemization and integration of the operations for the continued scaling and growth of the business.

Prior to joining It’Sugar, Davis spent almost 20 years at Party City. During that time, he held a variety of senior positions, including VP of planning and allocation, CFO and chief inventory officer and COO. Davis spent several years as senior VP of corporate development and president of the wholesale division of Party City.

Prior to Party City, Davis held positions as director of financial systems and internal audit manager for Toys “R” Us.

“Mark’s vast retail expertise is an excellent addition to our leadership team,” said Jeff Rubin, CEO and founder of It’Sugar, which operates 96 stores. “His fact-based analytical approach, outstanding knowledge of the specialty retail industry, and history of implementing systems, process and controls are expected to be tremendous assets as we continue to execute our growth strategy.”

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Big change coming to Alibaba

BY Marianne Wilson

Alibaba Group will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a crucial change at the top.

Jack Ma, the billionaire founder and executive chairman of the Chinese online giant is stepping down to pursue his ongoing interest in education. Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed Ma as chairman, effective September 10, 2019, which falls on the company’s 20th anniversary. Ma will continue as executive chairman at Alibaba during the next 12 months for a smooth transition of the chairmanship to Zhang.

“This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development,” Ma wrote in a letter to customers and shareholders. “… Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”

Ma will complete his current term as a member of Alibaba’s board until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020. He is a lifetime member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 partners who are also members of senior management of Alibaba Group or its affiliates.

Ma stepped down as CEO of Alibaba in 2013, handing the reins to Jonathan Lu. Lu was replaced in 2015 by Zhang, Alibaba’s former COO, after Ma reportedly told employees that it’s time for the company to be run by people in the 1970s and after.

A former English teacher, Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 and built it into one of the world’s leading e-commerce and digital payments companies. With a net worth estimated at more than $40 billion, he is reportedly the wealthiest man in China.

In his letter, Ma wrote that he still has “lots of dreams to pursue.”

“Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle,” he wrote.” I plan on continuing my role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and contribute to the work of the partnership. I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realized?”

To read Ma’s entire letter, click here.

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